“It’s about how you live.” This theme for November’s Hospice and Palliative Care Month perfectly describes not only why people choose our compassionate care for their loved ones, but also why people like you volunteer with Agrace. Back in 1978, it was a group of volunteers who started the hospice and palliative care organization we know today as Agrace. They were bound by a shared mission: to help people in our community live better with life-limiting illness and die with dignity.

Forty years later, volunteers’ commitment to that mission remains rock solid. So far in 2017, Agrace volunteers have donated more than 60,000 hours! The majority of these hours are spent directly with patients, providing companionship. Like Alejandro who reads to a patient from “Sopa de pollo para el alma del Cristiano,” and like John, who sits vigil with patients who are actively dying. Or like our pet volunteers, Belinda and Iris, and their dog Gizmo, who bring great joy to everyone they visit. Some volunteers prefer to work behind the scenes, helping to raise money for our Care for All Program, helping customers at the Agrace thrift stores, tending the Agrace gardens or providing essential administrative support to our staff.

Each month, we welcome and train new volunteers from all cultures and communities. Their reasons for volunteering are often very personal. Many have held the hand of a loved one through their last days. Some are retired nurses and doctors who feel naturally compelled to help, and others are medical students hoping to learn more about death and dying. But most of Agrace’s 950+ volunteers came to us because they simply want to live their lives in service to others—to make their local communities stronger and better. And trust me, they do!

Agrace provides high-quality palliative and end-of-life care to people in 14 counties in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois, and volunteer support is essential to all that we do for both patients and their families. As we celebrate Hospice and Palliative Care month in November, I want to thank you for choosing to serve through Agrace. We appreciate you and we are inspired by you every day!

Andy Boryczka, Director, Employee Engagement and Volunteer Services